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The ‘Semi de Paris’ is a World Athletics Bronze Label race which attracts 40,000 runners from across France and the rest of Europe. On the 6th of March thousands of runners took to the streets of the French capital, for the Harmonie Mutuelle Semi de Paris 2022, France’s biggest Half Marathon.
We caught up with Kate, when she returned to Manchester, to ask about what it was like to participate in the event. Over to you Kate…
When I started running in December 2019, I never thought I’d go on to run a half marathon, but that is what I have done. It was a beautiful weekend in Paris; crisp cold air with glorious sunshine provided a wonderful backdrop to visit the Eiffel Tower, admire the Arc du Triomphe, marvel at the Louvre, relax reading a book at a cafe, take a stroll in the local park… Oh and complete the Paris Half Marathon!
Flights to Paris are readily available from most airports in the UK, I flew over on Saturday morning from Manchester, a quick 1-hour flight – affordable, easy, quick. In the itinerary provided by Sports Tours International there were clear directions on how to find the hotel using Paris’ Metro system, which were straight forward to follow and I was able to find my way successfully.
I was staying at Hotel Porte Dorée, which was easy to find, and was well positioned close to shops, restaurants, and the Metro station for access to the half marathon and for exploring Paris. Our Rep, Clément, was available each day in reception to chat to about anything guests needed – tips for Paris and any specific questions about the event itself.
This is my first half marathon, and I’m not the speediest of runners anyway, so I was in the 2hr 10+ start time. Clément was on hand Sunday morning to escort guests to the start line, but as my start time was 10.30, leaving the hotel at 7:30 was much earlier than required.
One of my biggest concerns was what to do with my bag during the run. The sun was shining but it was COLD and travelling by myself there was a few things I wanted for after the race, so I used the bag drop, which was brilliant! In your envelope with the race number there was a tag for your bag.
Soon it was time to make my way to the start line, and enroute they did a warmup, which was much needed having been stood still in the cold for a while. At that point I was envious of the people with long sleeve tops on and gloves etc, but in that sunshine as soon as we got moving, I knew I had made the right choice in my running attire!
The route was a mix of urban roads and roads through the large local park (near my hotel), it was fairly flat, but there were three inclines I think, but not enough that it killed off your legs. There were small crowds cheering you on along the route, and plenty of music with drums and bands stationed along the way providing a lively atmosphere throughout.
Crossing the finish line was an amazing feeling. It was busy but they quickly gave out medals, handed out ponchos (which I regretfully didn’t take), bananas and water. Once I left the crowds the cold wind quickly hit me (why didn’t I get the poncho!) so I made a beeline for the bag drops and quickly got my hoodie back.
After getting back to the hotel for a shower and a rest, I headed back out into Paris and rounded off my weekend taking in the views at the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, before enjoying a delicious glass of Rosé outside a beautiful café reading my book.
Travelling by myself it was a real help to have Clément on hand each day to talk me through how to get to places, what to expect and where to go – and it was a great comfort to know that he was available on the end of the phone at any time.
Overall, it was such an incredible and memorable weekend. Yes, you can run a half marathon event most weekends across the UK and the distance is exactly the same, but I’ve got to say, doing it somewhere as beautiful and memorable as Paris is a memory that will stick with me.
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